Wednesday, February 12, 2014

AUF WIEDERSEHEN GERMANY, HALLO EZRA


Our farewell lunch with our dear team members.




On January 17, 2014, we winged our way back across the ocean to reunite with loved ones and pick up our civilian life again.  It was a joyous reunion at the airport and then a trip to the hospital to meet our newest grandson, Ezra James Busath, born the night before to Natalie and Rich.  We have been busy bonding with the grand kids, catching up with old friends and our new missionary friends that preceded us home.  Change can be the pits though.  We are attending a new ward in Midway, searching for stuff among our boxes of too much stuff and praying for meaningful purpose in this next chapter in our lives.




                         Sister Janna and brother Paul with Elaine. Gordon in the background.


                                                 Three generations of beautiful girls



                                                            Maddie waited for us!


                      Pain au Chocolate from Paul's boulangerie in Paris (our short layover point)



Happy reunion
                                Shy children getting to know their grandpa again,


                                        Gummi bear bribes to break the ice.


                                                   Does it get any better than this?


                                           Flying in the airport with Maddie.


                                                              Some of the boys.


                                                   House warming surprise.


          Andy spent hours making these semi-anatomically correct figures of each family member.                             Notice the missionary tags on Nana and Tada and the upturned ponytail on Maddie, just                        to name a few of the accurate replications.


                    Ezra James wins the race to Salt Lake.  What a sweet and handsome boy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ALLES GUTE

As  we approach the end of our service, this graffiti pretty much sums up how we are feeling these days.

Every rock and tree, even many cobble stones have a soft cast of green from the ubiquitous moss that grows so well in the moist climate.

Nature is the greatest artist and she gets help from the frequent rain and fog. Even the tree branches are covered in green.

We would like to know why their winter crops don't freeze and die off when the frost hits.  These fields seem to do just fine.

Nice to spend our last Saturday attending the baptism of super sharp young man named Romeo Alaysin.  He is working in Frankfurt but home is California.  He encountered the missionaries on the street and is now a fresh new enthusiastic member with a cute German return missionary girlfriend. How is that for fellowshipping?  PS He found the Church before the girl - double bonus!

We will miss our miniature Christus that greeted us each day as we returned home to the apartment.  Martin laid this heart right at the Savior's feet which is just what we have tried to do while here.


Every morning our first duty is to read the Daily Security Report put out by the Church.  It warns of potential dangerous locations around the world.  In case you missed this Church Security Bulletin below warning of large and unruly crowds expected at the Salt Airport next Friday:



Sunday, January 5, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR


We celebrated New Year's Eve with five other senior couples at our apartment.
 We played fun team games from nine until midnight, when all heck breaks lose in the form of an hour long barrage of fireworks in the city 360 degrees in every direction.  You would not believe it unless you saw it.
 Group charades?
 Kimballs, Eyres, Gublers, Swifts, Madsens and us with our grocery store grape juice.
 Need a faster shutter at night.  They were shooting up rockets in the street below us and since we are on the seventh floor.  They were exploding right at eye level on our balcony.  These fireworks are all from private individuals on the streets - no government money involved.

video


 On the second we attended a birthday bash for our wonderful missionary helper, Gabi Harth.  She helps us all register with the government and get our drivers licenses.  So fun to join her German family for great food, laughter and grandchildren in this faithful sister's home.
 Martin Luther passed through this portal on his way into Worms for the Diet of Worms circa 1520, when he was called to defend or recant his departure from the Catholic catechism.  He said he would if they could prove him wrong with the Bible.  They couldn't.
 Who loves the Virgin Mary more than candle makers?
 This cardinal was standing in the courtyard so Martin took the opportunity to get a little blessing.
 The Jewish cemetery is one of the highlights of a trip to Worms. During medieval times the city was considered one of the Jewish intellectual centers of Europe.  The cemetery has headstones as old as 10th century.  Most recent dates were early 1900s.  These two graves were prominent scholars who still have a following. (Notes and stones on top of the markers.)
 Though Martin Luther only spent 10 days here defending himself.  These 10 days changed the world.  His statue here is surrounded by those of other reformist thinkers of the era.
 Ha, ha.  This is a look up from the garden at the underside of the toilet at the Marksburg castle. We were told they only used it in bad weather.  Seems it was also good to be king in the days before plumbing.  Seriously these castles seem so stark and cold the peasants in town had to be more comfortable and didn't have to walk up the hill to get home every night.
 We had a treat on Saturday when Jan Steenblick and his friend Reet, came to visit us from Borne, Netherlands.  He was our tour guide in the Netherlands when Hollis and Joan came to visit.  We were happy to show them around Frankfurt and enjoyed getting to know each other better.  We talked about the blessings of temple marriage as they have both recently lost spouses and we will send Reet a Book of Mormon.  Jan has been through the Hague Temple at its Open House.
Again we happen across a real and true princess. This time at the decorated fountain in front of the Old Opera House in downtown Frankfurt.  Can't believe our good luck!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

AND SO IT IS CHRISTMAS


Always hard to be away from home at Christmas time.  We were glad Spence and Xan found family to be with in the East.  Though we missed being with our loved ones, we received the second best thing as each of children shared their testimonies with us, which is the greatest gift any parent could desire.

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Christmas Eve with convert Huifeng Li and fellow missionaries the Harrisons and Smiths.

We tried as best we could to replicate the Craven family Christmas Eve traditions.  We invited some senior missionaries and Hiufeng Li, a recent convert to Elaine's clam chowder dinner. We took turns sharing what we were most thankful for this past year and then lit the candle fastened to our plate.  We had a meager "talent show" afterward with songs and stories and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and had some birthday cake.  Li thought that was pretty strange, but joined in, singing in his native tongue.

Feeling very loved as loved ones remembered us far away at Christmas.

Christmas day was a brunch with the area missionaries at the ward and then catching up with our kids and their families as they arose on Christmas morning 8 hours later.

Former South German Missionaries Elders Kimball and Pferdner who commented on the great influence President Fetzer had in their lives.  The woman in the background is a member here from Eagle Mountain Utah with her husband and 2 children for the skeleton world cup competitions in Europe then they go straight on to the Olympics in February (She would have to crash to not qualify.  She's fourth in the world right now. Watch for her in Russia, Noel Pace.)


A sunrise that made the downtown buildings look on fire.

Our dear zone leaders who work tirelessly for all the senior missionaries here in Frankfurt

Making the youth center at the church look as much like home as possible for the Christmas Brunch

Hot chocolate bar with real M & Ms from the States

Food, food and more food
The area office is effectively closed between December 23 and January 5th as all the employees take their final holiday of the year.  The Wise Men don't make it to Jerusalem until Three Kings day on January 6th, so most Germans try to stay home until then as well. We go in the office  to answer emails from our public affairs directors about preparing the 2014 plans and budgets which are due January 1st.  We also finished editing and uploading 120 photos to the Norway Newsroom library from our trip to Oslo earlier this month. It has also been nice to have some quiet time to prepare our sacrament meeting talks for Dec 29 - speaking on subject of a "New Year and New Beginnings".

Sunday, December 22, 2013

FOURTH ADVENT OF CHRISTMAS

Saturday evening we  rode rode the train with the Harrisons downtown to hear the St Petersburg Boys Choir.  The high ceiling St Bartholomew's cathedral has perfect acoustics for their angelic voices. The Harrisons were mission presidents in Russia so Sister Harrison has the perfect coat for cold winter nights in Germany.
 

St. Petersburg Boys choir at St. Bartholomew's Cathedral in Frankfurt
Today in Primary, Sister Craven organized the children to present the nativity story, complete with costumes and a manager.  The children were very attentive and loved to each have a part in the story.  Joseph is a blind boy so his staff was a very authentic prop.  Well done, Sister Craven,

Getting ready for the Primary Christmas Pageant


If you are on PC, there is a video of the pageant below.  If you are on an Apple it is blank here :(
video


Darling children on a Holy Night






This week we got to know the new Infield Representative Elder Smith and his wife (left) and the new Area Exec Sec Elder Johansen and his wife (center) Elder Smith was a mission president in the Philipines and the Johansens were mission presidents in Norway.







7:30 am view from our balcony on shortest day of the year - 21 Dec 2013